Archive for the ‘Gay’ Category


In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on October 6, 2010 at 7:43 pm

The document company to the stars, well maybe not, but it bills itself as the service that puts the “law on your side.” Well, they don’t really do that. The law is the law, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s easy to make a mistake.

Just had a  client in my Santa Monica office, whose soon-to-be-ex wife filed papers on him. They were mostly filled out, which is a problem. Because “mostly” doesn’t cut it with a court. They want all the answers, in the correct places, in order for a case to move forward.

There are some things that LegalZoom is great at, basic things like a dba, or an incorporation, are really basic, name, address, filing fee. But for something that is so important and complex as a divorce, where the state has created many legal obligations and duties, you need to know what you are doing. Most people don’t know that once they file for a divorce there are Automatic Restraining Orders that are put in place, and that violating them can subject you penalties.

This is why an experienced family law attorney is important. They explain all the facts about going through a divorce. LEGALZOOM doesn’t do that. They don’t do the counselling of a scared client who doesn’t know the process. LEGALZOOM doesn’t help an angry client who’s being betrayed by a cheating spouse. LEGALZOOM doesn’t provide the type of legal knowledge and present alternatives, that an experienced lawyer does.

Getting married is easy, getting divorced is complicated. There are many hoops to jump through, and there is a lot of paperwork which needs to be completed correctly or the court will reject it. Knowing what a court needs, and being able to help a client through the maze of it all, this is why an experienced attorney is useful.


In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Perjury, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on October 5, 2010 at 7:11 am


I come from a loud Italian-Irish-German family. My parents fought. A lot.

Sometimes it would be a “civilized” and mostly verbal, with the occasional tossing of a frying pan or breaking a glass. Other times it was really ugly with knives pulled and bones broken.

Usually there was alcohol involved in some way. But there didn’t have to be, my parents were experts at digging each other and finding that weak spot and drilling it.

So to say that I grew up in a home full of domestic violence is no lie. From the merely uncomfortable moments that always happen when two or more live in the same household, to the titanic battles that erupted – there was always lots of anxiety for me as a kid to breathe in and try to cope with.

This was 40 years ago, and the concept of domestic violence wasn’t fully formed. Women were still heavily prejudiced in the courts, society as a whole didn’t know how to handle it when spouses fought. The long term effects of domestic  violence on the children was not considered, because they weren’t hurt – or so it was thought.

Most of the time, unless actual physical harm was done it wasn’t considered a crime. An actual battery, a physical touching, had to occur in order for the police to take notice, and even then, it was mainly ignored.

Times change. Farrah Fawcett makes a movie, The Burning Bed, awareness grows, support networks develop, and shelters are built to protect the victims from their aggressors.

Domestic Violence has been expanded as a concept, which is why I’ve written a book, “A Man’s Guide To Domestic Violence.” Society and the courts have expanded what we consider violent, and abusive. It no longer requires physical hurts. Emotional abuse is not tolerated.



We recognize that an environment that is psychologically tormenting is not healthy, and therefore not acceptable. With this new expanded definition, more people than ever fit the profile of an abuser.

The traditional view of a man in a tank top ( the shirt commonly called “a wife beater”) is no longer the standard. Anyone can be an abuser, and it doesn’t take much. A smart mouth, and some emotional hurts, and an abusive household is made.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. It’s a difficult topic to discuss because no one wants to believe they are a victim. Men in particular have a  hard time acknowledging when they are being abused.

Even men that can acknowledge that they are being abused, have a very difficult time taking action to stop it, which may be one reason why it escalates. If more men acknowledged sooner that they are in an abusive relationship, when it is at a verbal abuse stage, perhaps the situation wouldn’t escalate to physical abuse.

So how do you know if you’re in abusive situation? The following comes from the Domestic Awareness Hotline for Men and Women, (www.DVAHMW.org) which is run by my friend Jan Brown. She was the first woman to start a shelter that accepted both men and women.


  • Does she threaten that if you leave you will never see the children again? Destroy or threaten to destroy your property?
  • Have you been shoved, slapped, punched, bitten or kicked? Even once?
  • Does your partner block an exit to keep you from leaving during an argument? Keep you from seeing friends or family? Use name-calling?
  • Does your partner denigrate you in the presence of others? Say no one else would want you? Threaten suicide if you were to leave?
  • Do you feel like you’re “walking on eggshells” around your partner? Does she act like two different people? (e.g. Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde)
  • Does your partner anger easily, especially when drinking or on drugs?

If any number of these factors are true in your relationship, there is a problem. Victims of intimate partner violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, incomes, professions, ages and religions. Intimate partner abuse is not always defined by who is the stronger and/or bigger person in the relationship.  It is about one person having and maintaining power and control over another person through physical, psychological, and/or verbally abusive means.”

In my book, “A Man’s Guide To Domestic Violence” I address the issue from a man’s perspective of what is abuse today, how to peacefully combat it, and how to handle false allegations of domestic abuse. The book is available by emailing me at dpisarra@pisarra.com or through the website, www.amansguidetodomesticviolence.com.

Father and Son Video – Why Dads Are Cool and Matter !

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Gay, Paternity Issues on October 3, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Most boys want their dads to do things like build model cars, fly kites, teach them to play sports or engage them in joint play. It’s how boys become men, they learn the language and ethos of being a man, by interacting and watching. I know I’ve learned how to be a man, by being mentored by other men in various areas of my life, from romance, to finance, to how to change the brakes on my classic ’65 Ford Mustang ( yes, I’d kill to have that car today! )

So that’s why this video is so extremely cool, father and son made a space craft and this video captures the flight to space, and the return:


Children of Sperm Donors Have Rights Too

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Strategy Issues on October 1, 2010 at 7:38 am

It’s been said many times that politics makes strange bedfellows, and on the topic of sperm donation, I just found the strangest bedfellow a Los Angeles Family Law Attorney could imagine: Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage. She has written an article on the Gay v. Lesbian case I worked on, and she bought the lies about my client without speaking to me or him.  But what’s interesting is that in 2008 she wrote an article on the how the children of a one night stand have rights that cannot be bargained away in court, yet the parents who go the donation route can bargain away all the child’s right, pre-conception.

She is against that, and thinks there should be a law requiring a database which allows the child to know who the donors are, she used sperm donors, and I’m assuming she would want it to work for egg donors equally.

But why pick exclusively on birth mothers? If children have a right to know their own biological parents — a claim recognized in international human rights law and one to which I am deeply sympathetic — there is no good reason to limit this claim to the small number of women who accept the agonizing burden of giving life to children they cannot raise.

Far more children these days are deprived of knowledge of their origins by a totally difference process: artificial insemination. How can we possibly countenance placing burdens exclusively on women who give life and excuse totally the men whose sole contribution to their child was to “donate” into a little cup, usually for money?

And our laws are almost totally to blame for keeping children created by reproductive technologies in the dark about their origins. The common law remains the rule for children created by sexual acts: I cannot bargain away at the bar my child’s right to the support and care of both his mother and father. The child retains the right to the support of both parents, no matter to what those parents have agreed. But if I go to a doctor or clinic for sperm, adult bargains are suddenly allowed by law to trump the child’s natural right to know both his biological parents, wherever possible.


If we are going to revise all our laws to facilitate adult desires at children’s expenses, the least we can do is require facilities that make money by making babies to keep records on whom the biological father is, and make those records available to children who turn 18.

I don’t see this happening any time soon, or ever frankly. The judicial system views pre-conception rights as separate from those of post-conception, and this not likely to change. But as we see more and more people avail themselves of surrogacy, using lawyers like Stephanie Caballero, we can be sure that there will be more conflicts, unless people use highly skilled attorneys to prepare their agreements.

What Type Of Lawyer Do I Need?

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues on September 24, 2010 at 3:42 am

“I need a shark” I hear that often from clients who think that the way to win in a child custody case or a divorce is to hire the nastiest, meanest, most abrasive, and aggressive lawyer they can find. They want to make the other person’s life a nightmare. There are times when being a shark is appropriate.

“I just want out” is a frequent comment from the men that I represent. By the time a man comes into the office of a lawyer he’s usually already made up his mind to get a divorce and is willing to give her anything she wants, just to be free. Big mistake. Huge. He’s looking to give up way too much for his peace of mind.

“I’ve moved out, and now I’ll settle for 50/50 custody of the kids.” Yeah, not so much. Unless your ex is a travelling saleswoman, you’re not going to get a court to give you 50% custody when you leave the house. The other statement I hear a lot is, “She’s not a fit parent, and I want full custody.” If she really is dangerous, you should not have left, but rather turned her in to the child protection agency, or sought a restraining order protecting you and the children.

Those are three scenarios that I frequently come across and they illustrate the different roles that I play as a lawyer.


Sometimes I am a shark and have to be extremely aggressive and relentless. I had that in a case where I knew that the ex-wife had remarried, but denied it so that she could continue to collect alimony. We hired a private investigator and kept digging until we found the proof we needed to stop paying her alimony. We spent many thousands of dollars but saved over a hundred thousand.


Other times I have to be a protector of my client, against his own wishes. I have to fight with him to make sure he doesn’t give up too much to achieve peace. Men don’t value money and possessions, they are usually of the mindset that they will just go earn more money and buy new stuff. But there’s no reason why they should give up more than half in a divorce, and it is frequently my job to make sure that they don’t.


Fathers want to be an active participant in their children’s lives. But what they don’t realize is that they must fight hard and strategize long before a breakup to make sure that their rights will be respected and honored, not by the mother, but by the court. Men need to know what their options are, and their legal rights and obligations, before they make any drastic changes in a family law situation. The biggest mistake most men make, is to act first, seek counsel second. When they do that, I have to be the voice of reality that explains to them why they have already lost the war and they didn’t even know they were fighting.


In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Divorce, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Restraining Orders, Strategy Issues on September 21, 2010 at 5:19 am

Like Dante’s Hell, there are levels to the hell of Child Custody battles, the darkest, worst level, is Severe Parental Alienation. In Los Angeles we see many cases where one parent, usually the mother, is on a campaign of terror to erase the father from the child’s life. I had a case in Orange County, and we had to go through the full child custody evaluation process, just to keep the little visitation time that my client had. Mom had a history of being sexually molested ( by a family member) and was hypervigilant about her young two year old daughter. The court in Orange County made dad jump through  major hoops, driving from his home in Sherman Oaks to Orange county two and three times a week to see his daughter, but eventually the court ruled in our favor.

Thankfully most people don’t experience the severe parental alienation hell. This level is reserved for those who are dealing with the severely mentally ill. They are the Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) people. These are people who have a long history of sexual and emotional abuse from when they were children. Severe Parental Alienation happens because people  have major abandonment issues themselves, are that is what causes them to become  Severe Parental Alienators.

Keepingfamiliesconnected.org defines Severe Parental Alienation as:

Severe Parental Alienation: These parents have one mission, to aggressively and viciously attack and destroy the previously healthy and loving relationship that their children have with the other parent. During a separation and the ensuing divorce, the targeted (rejected) parent almost always becomes a bitter enemy in the mind of the alienating parent. They must “win” at all costs. They are determined to be the only parent in their child’s life. They resent and get violent (verbally and many times physically) with anyone that sets healthy boundaries with them in their quest for dominance and control over the other parent. All of which can lead to a long and bitter child custody battle which is never ending.

In many cases, there is a history of severe psychological problems and agitations before the alienation tactics are ever employed. Many times these individuals suffer from some type of mental illness. The alienator perceives and portrays themselves as the victim. They are obsessed, consumed and driven, by the goal of destroying the “target” (rejected) parent in the eyes of the child (or children). They enroll family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, schools, churches, police, and the courts in their quest to remove the target parent from their child’s life. They constantly create opportunities, to reinforce their agenda to manipulate the children into believing their false realities. Anyone that might support a realistic and positive view of the “targeted” (rejected) parent is cut off from the child’s life. They also remove any evidence of positive interaction with the child and the other parent, in an effort to complete the brainwashing process, such as pictures, cards, presents etc. If they ever feel guilty, they dismiss that guilt with statements like “I know what’s best for my child” or “I’m just protecting them from abuse or negligence”.

The child is both a weapon to be used against the other parent and a tool to make them feel emotionally complete. They are so consumed with themselves, their hatred, and the need to control, that they are only interested in their own needs. They refuse to see the pain and destruction they are causing in the life of their child. Even after the alienation is complete, a severe alienator will often continue to use the child and the courts to further their revenge on the targeted parent with excessive litigation, unnecessary bills and continued accusations of both physical and sexual abuse. Often they are not satisfied until they see the complete destruction of the other parent both emotionally and financially. They need the rejected parent branded as an “abuser” in order to feel good about themselves and their actions. These people are damaged and in desperate need of professional psychological help and extensive therapy. They often have clinically diagnosable issues such as BPD (borderline personality disorder) .  Most will never get the help they need unless it is court ordered, which is rare indeed.

“She’s cutting me out of their lives!” – PARENTAL ALIENATION IS CHILD ABUSE

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on August 19, 2010 at 7:46 am

I frequently hear from dads, that mom is “cutting me out of their lives” and to varying degrees this is called Parental Alienation (“PA”). There is much debate about whether it’s a psychological syndrome or not. But to men who are fighting it, they don’t care. They just know it hurts and it’s a very difficult battle to wage.

Dad Defending Himself
What you need in a Parental Alienation Battle

Fathers have a difficult time staying involved in their children’s lives. The courts usually keep the kids with mom when dad moves out. Mom expects dad to continue working as much as he did, for two reasons, so that he has as much money as before, and to keep him so busy he doesn’t have time for the kids, which she then uses against him.

There are three main categories of PA, Mild, Moderate and Severe. All of them are abusive, to the father, but more so to the child. Harming or destroying one parent’s relationship with their child is, and should be treated as, CHILD ABUSE.


According to www.Keep


Mild Parental Alienation: Parents who lose control, make negative comments or exhibit negative behavior towards the other parent in front of the child, but feel bad about it later. Most parents going through a divorce engage in this level of Parental Alienation at some point. But they recognize they are wrong, worry about the effects on the child (or children), and take steps to stop inappropriate actions directed at the other parent. They understand that their child needs to have a healthy and loving relationship with both of their parents, to have the best chance of developing into a healthy adult someday. These parents rarely use the family court system to control or attack the other parent, and are rarely involved in starting a child custody battle.

My law firm has fought these battles for years, they are nasty and difficult. Many times it looks like Mom is just being a protective parent, and if you’re in this fight, you need to know that it’s a long war, not just a one day event.

I’m Not “Just a fag” anymore.

In Gay on August 10, 2010 at 9:01 am

This is  my column “What’s the Point?” as it appears in the Santa Monica Daily Press. I’ve been following and writing about Gay marriage for over 15 years now. Judge Vaugh Walker’s ruling in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger case was welcome relief. Now to my column:

When I heard on Wednesday that Judge Vaughn Walker had invalidated Proposition 8 as a violation of my civil rights, he didn’t just say I could marry a man, he said I was no longer, ‘just a fag.’

As a gay man who has followed the civil rights march of the gay community for years, I am intimately familiar with the legal, spiritual and linguistic maneuvers that have been used to keep full equality from me and my people.

In law school I was on Law Review and wrote an article in 1995 about the state of gay marriage entitled, “Gay marriage makes it to the altar, who’s got the license?” It’s been 15 years since I wrote that article, and about 50 years since Harry Hay and the Mattachine Society began protesting in Washington for Homosexual Marriage.

This week, the license was issued by Judge Walker. He  ruled in Perry v. Schwarzenegger that there is no rational basis for discriminating against gays and lesbians in the issuance of marriage licenses, and consequently he invalidated Proposition 8, which limited marriage to a man and a woman.

But his 136 page, extremely well thought out, thorough, comprehensive ruling said so much more. He said, in the language of lawyers, that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated no differently than anyone else in our society. This ruling is the hammer that will pound the nail in the coffin of institutionalized public discrimination. On trial in this case was not just Proposition 8, but the underlying belief that homosexuals are a threat to society. For that, is what was used to win passage of Proposition 8, fear that children might learn what a gay person is, fear that a mother’s child might ‘be turned’ gay by the knowledge of our existence.

In a million subtle ways gay men and women are degraded, demeaned and belittled daily. I have an acquaintance who likes to use the phrase, “just a fag” he doesn’t see how demeaning, and objectifying, that is. I know others who say, “I have no problem with gay people, I just pray my son isn’t one” and they can’t see that they are perpetuating the hate.

The irrationality of the fears, and the ease of their promotion because of the objectification of gay men and women was what was on trial here. It is that irrational thinking that was rejected by Judge Walker.  It is the role of the courts to be objective. Courts are supposed to apply rational logic, not moralistic edicts, to the rules that govern our society. It is the only way that a Jew and a Christian, and dare I say it a Mormon, can get equal respect before the law.

The law has standards of review and they are crucial to how a case will be decided. In this case, Judge Walker gave the defense the benefit of the lowest level of review possible – Rational Basis. The phrase ‘rational basis’ is crucial in making this a landmark ruling that will withstand further review. In Constitutional law cases, there are three standards of review that are used to weigh a governmental interest against a prohibited behavior.   Rational basis is the default review standard and the higher levels of scrutiny are used to protect fundamental rights –  free speech, voting and marriage for example. In this case, the right to marry, would normally require the court to apply strict scrutiny to the law to make sure that it was the least restrictive on the right to marry, that the law was narrowly tailored and that there was a compelling government interest at stake.

The defendants in this case, having no evidence on their side, and in what can only be called a litigators ‘hail Mary effort’ advanced the theory that the appropriate level of scrutiny should be rational basis, meaning that if there is ANY rational reason for the law, it should pass constitutional muster. It is equivalent to an exasperated parent’s use of “because I said so” to shut up a questioning child.

Judge Walker gave the defendants every opportunity, and avenue to give a reason why Proposition 8 should stand, and they came up with nothing. Perhaps because the smoke and mirrors of the fear mongering has finally run its course.

The amazing lawyers David Boies and Tel Olsen did a masterful job of exposing the subtle forms of homophobia that pervaded the Yes on 8 campaign, and society throughout history. By building this case as they did, they laid the tools at the feet of Judge Walker to excavate two millennia of accumulated animus, and expose it to the light of day for what it is, baseless.

No matter what happens in the future, this case has made one thing perfectly clear, I am no longer ‘just a fag’ and for that I am profoundly grateful to Boies, Olsen, Walker and the men and women over the past 60 years who have fought for gay rights.


In Gay on August 7, 2010 at 6:04 pm

What a great father and son statement moment!

ISIAH THOMAS  and his son, DJ ZEKE THOMAS, in the NOH8 photo awareness effort.

We are Isiah and Joshua Thomas.

We posed for the NOH8 Campaign because we believe that all hate and discrimination is wrong. It is time for full equality and equal rights for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, or gender.

Isiah and son Zeke Thomas in the NO ON H8 campaign.

Isiah and son Zeke Thomas in the NOH8 campaign.

Divorce and Child Custody Video – Parody? Kinda, sorta, not really.

In child custody, Child Custody Issues, Child Support, Domestic Violence, Gay, Parental Alienation, Paternity Issues, Perjury, Prenuptial Agreements, Property Issues, Restraining Orders, Spousal Support, Strategy Issues, Uncategorized on August 6, 2010 at 11:02 pm

Okay, so, this video deals with a man after a divorce, and whether or not he’s still a dad, and what his child custody and visitation is going to be like. I like it because it’s kinda funny, but I’m also really touched by it, because it’s also WAY  too true of what many men and fathers feel like after going through a divorce and child custody battle, especially when they are unprepared or representing themselves.

I really want you to watch it, remember, DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU !!

Call me. Write me. Let me help you.